More and more young people confuse the concepts of marriage and wedding celebration. Many believe that getting married is just a formality, moreover, expensive.
But how did we get to this point? And what role does the media have or can have in respect to this phenomenon?
The following are some reflections on the subject.
Marriage and sobriety
Once I found myself in a marriage Mass without knowing it.
There were no flowers, the bride was dressed in white, and there was no car decorated with tassels.
I discovered that I was at a wedding ceremony only when the priest said: "Today we celebrate the union of a couple, who accepted my invitation to appreciate simple things..."
Then he explained that the two had come to him to ask for the baptism for their second child, being still just a couple living together. When asked why they did not get married, they replied that the marriage was too expensive.
The priest then confirmed: “Of course, I understand, it is very expensive to promise fidelity for a lifetime...”
“No,” they replied, “we are already trying to live faithfully, to support each other with patience... it's the cost on an economic level!”
“The cost on an economic level?” - he objected – “Look, I'll marry you for free.”
So he had the opportunity to explain to them the difference between marriage and wedding celebrations ... and they agreed to get married without spending a penny.
The gratuitousness of love
“This couple has chosen to receive the most important part, has understood the essence of marriage, and today is here to receive the seal of the Holy Spirit. That's free: the love of God does not cost anything. Everything else is an extra component, all the rest is tradition”, the priest specified during the homily.
That celebration made me reflect on the confusion that often exists between a marriage and wedding.
And I questioned how we could have arrived at that point.
When there is no line that separates the engagement from the marriage
Often, today, at least in Western countries, there is little difference between a “before” and an “after” marriage: one almost always chooses to start a life together by living together, therefore already living as though husband and wife, without it being marriage and often they will continue in that state without changing things.
As Prof. Héctor Franceschi rightly pointed out in a conference, which we mentioned in the article Is it worth to marry?, fewer and fewer young people seek out marriage. Why young people consider it unnecessary?
If there is no longer the purpose of living in chastity during the period preceding the nuptials and of living in different places until one becomes a husband and wife, one breaks the boundary line between two distinct moments: that of dating (or engagement) and that of reciprocal, definitive belonging (marriage).
So then what is marriage? At times, just a beautiful party
If you lose sight of the essence of marriage, the risk is that the wedding day is seen only as a time of celebration, after which, substantially, nothing changes.
I still remember a conversation I had with a girl. She was living with someone and was thinking of getting married. She told me: "I would like to get married. So, what's the difference if I live together with someone or get married? If things go wrong, there's a divorce...”
For her, marriage was just a beautiful celebration. Getting married did not add anything to, nor take away anything from her life.
There are always more and more couples that go for a civil or religious marriage together with their children, with a family life already in established.
After the nuptials, everything returns to normal, except now a ring is worn on a finger.
Obviously, this does not apply to all: there are couples for whom cohabitation and marriage are two different conditions of life: the first provisional, the second definitive.
Some, after getting married, feel that something has changed – that the union has received a seal, that an important step has taken place and the relationship has become stronger.
Let's go back, however, to the danger of getting married only for the celebration, which grows exponentially.
What role can the media play?
The means of communication have some responsibility . Are they complicit with this phenomenon?
The answer was that they do not help to clarify the difference between marriage and the wedding , on the contrary, they sometimes increase the confusion.
The programs that talk about nuptials - of famous people, but also of ordinary people - are quite popular on TV.
There are channels dedicated almost totally to the various aspects related to the “matrimony preparation.” Unfortunately, however, they speak of everything other than marriage as a story, the commitment that we assume, the consequences of an oath that claims to re-echo for all eternity.
We can find programs dedicated to the perfect dress choice, budget management to have a beautiful celebration, programs where you can also win a honeymoon... but love is hardly talked about. There are still programs that talk about infidelity, presenting it as a natural temptation of little importance, a small road bump that can show up in any couple's life. These are programs that not only do not speak of love, but also are even misleading and give a bad example.
To really talk about marriage: a challenge for TV producers
Addressing serious topics on TV is not easy: television is not for serious thinking, it is mostly for entertainment
It is also true, however, that a professional who works in this sector can set himself the goal of making people think without putting pressure on them; to deal with serious matters, without boring them.
Why not try to tell something about marriage... seriously, though?
It is not a matter of eliminating everything that enriches the celebration, but of remembering, through the narration of stories, anecdotes, etc., that there are essential things and additional things and the latter, if there is no longer a marriage, don’t do any good.
However, if you want, you can ask this together with us.
A true artist does not remain on the surface level
Dear TV producers, if you offer an alternative to the public, if you start proposing programs that at the center have the love that pushes two people to promise eternal fidelity, most likely you will have audience, because you will be taken into the hearts of many people.
Certainly, it is more difficult to find and tell true love stories than to show the clothes of a shop, but art, when it is true art, manages to make visible the invisible, tangible that which is immaterial.
An artist knows how to enter the mystery of love; he does not remain only on the surface level.
And this is what we ask of you : not to be moralists, but to offer us true art.